Homeowners should take steps to avoid frozen water pipes in winter weather

(WTVG) - With temperatures diving back into the teens this weekend, it's a good time for home owners to make sure their water pipes don't freeze.

Scott Ballenger, area manager with Aqua Ohio water utility company, offered the following recommendations ahead of the winter weather expected to hit Saturday morning.

• Make sure to have heat tape and pipe insulation, as well as a portable space heater and a hair dryer on hand.
• Locate and mark the home’s master water valve. Anyone old enough to be home alone should know where it is and how to close it. In the event that a pipe does break, use this valve to turn off water to the home.
• Make sure the lids on outdoor meter pits are not broken or missing.
• Shut off and drain any outside faucets including those for lawn sprinkling systems.
• Prevent drafts in unheated areas, such as crawl spaces or basements, by replacing broken windows or making other repairs.

Ballenger also advised homeowners take the following precautions in any unheated areas of their homes when temperatures drop below freezing.

• Wrap pipes with insulation material or heat tape. Wrap indoor water meters with a blanket. Proper and safe use of portable space heaters can also keep exposed pipes in drafty areas from freezing.
• For interior plumbing located on an outside wall such as a kitchen sink, install heat tape to the pipes beneath the sink. If no small children are in the house, open cabinet doors beneath the sink to allow the warm air in the home to reach the pipes.
• When temperatures approach 10°, customers may want to leave a very thin stream (about the size of a pencil lead) of water running continuously from at least one tap in their home, preferably the one farthest from the meter. The additional cost of the water is cheaper than the cost of repairing ruptured pipes.

If a pipe does freeze and a customer can locate the frozen area, they should open the nearest faucet to relieve pressure and use a hand-held hair dryer (blow dryer) or heat tape to thaw the area. If this does not resolve the issue, contact a licensed plumber. Do not use a heat gun or plumber’s torch.